GPS units to track three sex offenders

BY RICK HEPP

November 04, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

Three Camden men have become the first high-risk sex offenders to be
outfitted with a satellite tracking device as part of a two-year pilot
program that state officials say will help protect children from
pedophiles.

The $3 million project is expected to monitor the movements of New
Jersey’s 250 worst sexual predators using global positioning satellite
technology that state Parole Board officers will supervise 24 hours a
day, board spokesman Edward Bray said.

“We must use every resource to keep our children safe,” acting Gov.
Richard Codey said in a written statement. “GPS technology allows law
enforcement to track every movement of a convicted sex offender, so we’ll
know if they are in places they shouldn’t be.”

The first two sex offenders were outfitted last week with permanent
electronic ankle bracelets and small remote tracking devices they must
carry at all times, Bray said. A third offender has since been enrolled
in the program.

All three men were recently released from detention centers where they
were sent after serving their criminal sentences because the courts
deemed them likely to commit another sexual assault, Bray said.

“So far, it’s working well,” Bray said. “There have been, as we expected,
some technical issues that we are working out, but we haven’t had any
violations to this point.”

The technical issues included one offender having trouble placing the
tracking device on its charging cradle and another walking too far from
the device even though he was still in his own home.

The pilot program will ultimately include all 210 “tier-three” sex
offenders — those deemed by the courts to be the most dangerous — as
well as a number of “tier-two” offenders. Under the new law, any offender
who fails to comply with the program or tampers with the tracking
equipment would be guilty of a crime, punishable by up to five years in
prison and $15,000 in fines.

The board plans to add more offenders to the program in the coming
months, Bray said. All 250 will be enrolled by May, when 20 parole
officers trained to handle the technology will graduate from the academy.

The Parole Board is considering using GPS to track offenders involved in
domestic violence cases to prevent them from abusing their former
partners again, although Bray said the Legislature would have to pass a
law authorizing the expansion of the program.

© 2005 The Star-Ledger.

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